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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UCOP Concepts in the Reviewing Process

Laurie Monahan, UCSB

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we have really made some progress after the many struggles against the budget cuts and the ideological agendas issuing from UCOP? That our demands and our questions have not fallen on deaf ears? While this isn’t quite going to deliver what we have in mind, I wanted to share a couple of observations that have made me feel a little less steam-rollered – and just in time for the holiday season!

I serve on a couple of Academic Senate committees at UCSB and as many of you know, a lot of time is spent reviewing documents that are circulating throughout the system. Over the last few months I have been somewhat heartened by the materials that have been coming out of the UC-wide Academic Senate. When particular projects like on-line learning, Edley style, or learning assessment programs, Yudof’s special pet, are reviewed by our colleagues, they come up sorely wanting. The bottom line is the bottom line, after all, and basically none of these things are going to improve the budget situation based on the reports produced by the committees tasked to address them. UCOP, which has been crowing about cost savings should some of these programs be implemented, has offered not one dollar amount to account for existing budgets, the places where savings would be made, and the profits they imagine. This makes perfect sense. Because, of course, one need barely scratch the surface and our colleagues – researchers, after all -- immediately discover that any potential savings would be negligible or simply non-existent, thus leading to the obvious conclusion: the proposals are untenable or deeply flawed.

We can all wonder whether this will be enough to convince UCOP or the Regents to give up on their pipe dreams, but these reports are actually documenting the fact that they are not going to produce any savings and in some cases, will actually be prohibitively expensive to implement. I think that once UCOP really has to put facts to the fantasies, it will be a challenge to get these things implemented (the “through-put” just isn’t there). I take heart in this, not because I’m surprised at the outcomes (most people don’t need a task force to tell them that instruction without a body in the room is not going to produce the desired “learning outcome” in a liberal arts education). Rather, it means that once UCOP’s “ideas” start grinding through the system, our representatives and the UC structure delivers. This is something that Yudof and others at UCOP seem to have overlooked (or perhaps by firing a good portion of the informed UCOP personnel, they simply don’t know they have to contend with it). We have all had occasion to drive up our blood pressure thanks to the bureaucratic hoop-jumping required in the UC system, but this may well be what delivers us from the worst of these putatively forward-looking plans. It’s a slow process, so it’s difficult to sense that our protests have had an effect, but I believe our efforts are being backed up by the system itself. Shared governance has taken a terrible beating this last year, but UC’s structure requires certain kinds of information and assessments before UCOP can imagine itself king of infinite space. So far the committees have found what we already know, and they’ve got put official stamp on their reports. The devil is in the details, Mr. Yudof. Happy holidays.


California College University said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Toby Higbie said...

It's good to hear that the deliberative process of Senate review is bringing some realism to the management-by-stress orientation of the Gould Commission. But before we relax too much, consider the experience of the University of Illinois's "Global Campus," an effort to establish a stand-alone for-profit online campus within a state system. That project has now collapsed, but not before wasting a good deal of money on what was a bad idea.


Several years ago the UI administration tried to present this as a done-deal. It was to be the signal achievement of the university's new business-oriented President. They were paying staff and advertising degree programs before the campus Senates knew what was happening. In the end, the Senates regained control and insisted on a not-for-profit model. The Senates actually gave the administration a lot of good advice, and in my opinion strengthened the Global Campus idea. But any potential collaboration was poisoned from the get-go because the admin was not interested in collaboration. So the Global Campus is dead after wasting $7 million.

So keep up the good work and we can hopefully save ourselves some wasted time and money. And for the record, I'm not opposed to online course. But they are no silver bullet for our budget woes.

lhajjar said...

Wonder what that deleted comment said...Anyway, Laurie, thanks for this perspective which is, literally, from the trenches (of the conference tables). Glad to hear that there is still room for critical reasoning and the condemnations that should emanate from them--particularly eager to hear that Cyber Campus XI has been buried in the field of nonsense from which it sprouted.

Toby Higbie said...

I think the deleted comment was comment spam trying to sell something.

Catherine Liu said...

I wish I could be as optimistic as you about the question of on line education, Edley and faculty protests against the tenability of these initiatives. Last spring, I didn't believe that Pitts and Yudof would cut our salaries and then prevent us from taking teaching days as furlough days...against the recommendations of the Academic Council and rational, progressive labor policies. I'm grateful to have a job, but I think employee gratitude can be used against us...I am grateful to all the people on this blog and elsewhere who are pointing fingers at the outrageous ballooning administrative costs and at Edley's on line education initiatives. So important is he to UCOP that he earns a consultancy fee of 42K a year I believe.

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